Monday, March 22, 2010

Toshiba Satellite t135d-s1328rd: First Impressions


Toshiba Review-1010211



Today I got a new laptop.  Ultra-portable Toshiba Satellite t135d-s1328rd.  It was not too expensive, and it already has proven to be a far better machine than the netbook it is replacing.  Its predecessor was an Asus 1000HE, with the customary Atom processor and 2GB of ram.  That machine was useable, but just barely.  And working with photos on it was just out of the question.  My primary camera is a 10 megapixel Nikon D80, and I shoot RAW images with it.  Those files are quite large, and just 1 of them would bog the netbook down.  Plus, I use Adobe Lightroom to process those images, and it wouldn't even install on the netbook due to the limited screen resolution.  This Toshiba covers both of those bases.  Note: the pictures in this review were taken with our second camera, Manami’s 12 megapixel Panasonic DMC-TS1. 

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      This thing is really thin!  Opened up, the front edge is 10mm high.  Note the comparison to a USB plug.  Note also the position of the only USB port on the left side.  Just behind that is the HDMI port, and the vent for the heatsink.

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When closed, the front edge is roughly 20mm high.  Again, I am really impressed by how small this feels.  Realistically it is not any thinner than the netbook, but it feels thinner due to the much wider form factor.  The screen is a 13.3” widescreen @ 1366x768, as opposed to the netbook’s 10” widescreen @ 1024x600.

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The finish is called “Nova Red” on Toshiba’s website.  While it isn’t carbon fiber, it gives that impression.  And I feel that a glossy red finish really does make it go faster!

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   One minor problem with the shiny red “go-fast” finish is that its a bit of a fingerprint magnet.  I have had it for only a day and I see smudges on the finish.  Probably I will get used to it, and clean it off every week or so like I did with my previous laptops.

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 Back to the thinness of it…..


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 As you can see, the battery is the thickest part of the design.  It makes the rear end stand up off the table a bit, and gives you something to grip when you pick it up.  That battery is easily removed / replaced.  I haven’t seen one for sale yet, but I would like to be able to get a larger, higher capacity battery that sticks out the back a bit.  That would be good for use while traveling. 


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 I am not too comfortable with carrying this thing around.   I feel like I’m going to drop it at any minute, its that tiny.  So I recommend that you look into getting some kind of bag to fit it.  I am still hunting for one that suits

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   Next up, the mouse!  The Microsoft Arc mouse.  This is a pretty good travel mouse, although I wouldn’t use it for everyday computing.  It runs on 2 AAA batteries, and folds down to 1/2 its size.  Opened up, its close to the size of a standard desktop mouse, but its much much lighter, and does not track as accurately.  Battery life seems pretty good, I have only changed them out once (I put in Energizer Lithium Cells) and they are still going strong 1 year later.  Notice the little bag that came with the mouse.  That’s a nice touch, since this little guy isToshiba Review-1010224 destined to float around in Toshiba Review-1010223the bottom of the bag and get banged up.  This mouse has stayed with me through 3 laptops now, and while I find that Manami’s Logitech VX nano mouse has smoother operation, it is way too tiny for my big meathook hands.  So high marks for the Microsoft Arc mouse.          Get One!





Back to the laptop at hand:Toshiba Reviewb-1010225

       As far as performance goes, it blows the netbook away.  This is an AMD Turion Neo X2 processor (l625), with 4GB of ram, and an ATI HD3200 Video card. Windows 7 x64 is installed out of the box.  Simply being a dual-core processor makes a lot of difference, but having a proper graphics card seals the deal.  I have read of a few people actually doing some light gaming on similarly equipped laptops.  I probably won’t load anything more intense than “Portal”on this one.  However, I can vouch that Adobe Lightroom works well on this hardware.  P1010230While not nearly as responsive as my desktop machine, it is very useable and I see no reason why I couldn’t process photos and blog from here while on vacation.  In fact, I am posting this from said Toshiba laptop right now.         

    One major downside that i found after the first startup.  This machine, like mostP1010229 others, comes with so much junk software.  I spent the first two hours uninstalling all the bologna that Toshiba crams into it.  Norton Internet Bloatware (Security), MS Office trick version (trial version), and the lovely Toshiba take-over-your-network-and-ruin-it (config free) program.    :end of whining…..  (camera shots were easier than screenshots)

     After putting in the necessary time to clean up, I have a fast, responsive machine that weighs nothing, and might even fit into a manila envelope.  All for less than 600$  Take that Macbook Air!

    After 1 day of use, I have only good to say about this Toshiba 135D Ultra-Portable.   It blows away the netbook while being only slightly larger, and while it does cost more, it seems to be totally worth it!  

I give it 42 stars out of 10!  

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